Intro to Marketing

6 Sections


Marketing and persuasion are all about communicating. It is the art of selling ideas, generating emotions and creating beliefs in the minds of others. Why do you ask? Well, very simple young grasshopper. A strong idea, a core belief,  a conviction all generate emotions, and emotions are the only things that drive actions. If you want your customer to buy a product, if you want that special someone to go on a date with you, you need to plant a belief in their minds that will generate emotions. These emotions are what will allow them to persuade themselves to perform the action. But marketing is huge and vast and there’s really no way I could ever cover everything in one sitting. So instead I’ll use a little marketing to get you to understand some of the big ideas.

This intro to marketing syllabus will be your guide as you dip your toe into marketing. The resources and content cover some of the most important aspects of marketing that I wish I would I had been taught. This syllabus will be especially beneficial to people coming from a very analytical background like me. The ideas all build on one another and I recommend you check out each section before moving on to the next. I hope you’ll have fun with this syllabus and enjoy learning the concepts.  So grab a hot cup of tea, a comfy blanket and enjoy the journey.

The Art of Inception

2The Art of Inception

I want you to think of marketing like a magic trick. It looks amazing and unbelievable until you break down how it works. We’re going to break down and guide you through a fundamental trick I call, “the art of inception”. The way we are going to define inception is the art of implanting an idea or belief into a person’s mind with the hopes of generating an emotion that drives action. The art of Inception is a 4-step process and it’s easier to understand if you think of ideas and beliefs as a seed (you know the little things that turn into trees ). With that metaphor in mind, here are the four parts of inception we are going to cover.

The 4-steps of the art of inception

Step 1 – Picking your little idea seedlings. Not all ideas or beliefs will actually grow in the soil that is the human mind and you need to learn to pick the ones that will naturally survive and thrive.

Step 2 – Fertilizing the soil so your idea seeds can grow. Other idea seeds are competing with yours for the same nutrients ( your customer’s attention ) and you’ll need some fertilizer ( persuasion tactics ) if you want your idea to survive and grow in such a competitive environment.

Step 3 – Planting and growing your idea seeds into the minds of your customer. The smartest way to plant your idea is inconspicuously through a story. Because of the unique properties of stories they work like a trojan horse and allow you to easily grow trees (strong emotions) in the minds of your customers.

Step 4 –  Spreading pollen to grow your forest. Making one tree may have been easy but next, you need to be able to strategically move from one mind to another growing more trees as you go. Your job now is to grow a forest (aka build your brand) that you can eventually harvest.

So now that you understand our metaphor let’s jump in and get you on your way to becoming a world-class marketer.

Picking your seeds and the ideas that stick

2Picking your seeds and the ideas that stick

So what kinds of idea seeds should you pick? Very simple, pick ideas people will find compelling enough to believe and are sticky enough that they will continue to believe them over time.

A fundamental principle in marketing to remember is that for better or for worse your customers believe things that aren’t true. Or put another way many of the things they believe to be true are true simply because they believe them ( when was the last time you personally double-checked the world is round and not flat ). The contrast between what you know is true and what you perceive is very similar to how optical illusions work. If the human mind believes something it becomes a fact and then we simply look for evidence to support our that belief. With this in mind, our goal then is really only to figure out if people will believe and remember your idea.

The resources in this section are going to intro you to the discipline of cognitive science where you’ll learn what ideas people are most likely to believe and the research behind why that’s so. You’ll also learn some of the science behind why certain ideas are remembered over others so that when you select yours they are also sticky. Click the resources button so that you can learn how to pick your idea seeds.

Adding some fertilizer and how to make ideas persuasive

3Adding some fertilizer and how to make ideas persuasive

Most of your customers have busy lives and live in a noisy world. Before you can ever present your idea to them you first need to capture their attention and that’s very hard to do considering that there is so much competition for it. In this section, we’re going to teach you how to fertilize the soil ( your customer’s mind) so that they actually notice your idea. This is where the science of behavioral economics comes to our rescue.

You see our brains are what researchers call cognitive misers, which means that we try to be as efficient (lazy) as possible when it comes to making decisions especially on what to pay attention to. This is why we trust doctors who tell us to smoke ( authority bias ) or read reviews/testimonials before buying a product ( social proof ). These shortcuts or attempts to be efficient are known as cognitive biases and as marketers, we can use them to make our customers warm up to our ideas and give our idea seeds a fighting chance in their minds (the soil).

The resources in this section are going to teach you all about cognitive biases and how to use these weapons of influence ( fertilizer the humans don’t condone violence ) to frame your compelling ideas in a way your customer will either consciously or subconsciously notice and accept.

Planting, growing, and the importance of storytelling

6Planting, growing, and the importance of storytelling

With your compelling idea seed in hand and some cognitive biases to fertilize the soil, it’s time to get started on your most important job as a marketer storytelling. Why storytelling ( or story-selling ), because humans aren’t rational. We simply follow our emotions then make up logic afterward to justify them and it’s because of this inconsistency that stories are so important to marketing.

Stories have power over us and are basically the operating system of the entire human brain.  The internal narrative of your customers ( and you ) shape the emotions that they feel and those emotions dictate the actions they are most likely to take. When you sell a story ( instead of your product ) it allows you to bypass all of the brain’s natural defenses because stories themselves are naturally compelling, sticky and give you an opportunity to frame any weapons of influence.

Through stories and narrative, you can make your customer feel whatever dormant emotion you choose to elicit. The trick with storytelling though is to remember that the emotions are already there and you’re simply trying to make your customer feel them. Remember the tree is already in your seed you simply add water and sunlight ( your story )  to make it grow.

The resources in this section are going to introduce you to emotional storytelling and why it’s important in marketing. You’ll learn how to craft stories that make your customers feel emotions that are highly correlated with whatever actions you want your customer to take.

For this section, we’ve also decided to add some awesome case studies that we feel are great examples of emotional storytelling. With each case study pay close attention to the emotions that they make you feel and what actions you are more likely to take now that you feel those emotions.  Also, notice whether those actions align ( coincidentally of course )  with the company, person or products business goals.  

Case Studies

Want it All – by Nike
By D Grace of God – by Pleasant Green
One Las Ride – by Budweiser
The True Story of Naadam – by Naadam Cashmere
My Life and Legacy – by Gary Vaynerchuk
This Father’s Day, Go Ask Dad – by Gillette
Netflix is a Joke – by Netflix
Dove Real Beauty Sketches – by Dove
Our Blades are Fucking Great – by DollarShaveClub

Growing a forest and building your brand

5Growing a forest and building your brand

There are a lot of ways to grow a forest, however as with most things in life you have limited time and limited resources so you only really want to consider strategies that take both of those factors into account. However, before we even cover any of that we need to bring to attention an often overlooked fact which is that the trees you plant need to produce delicious fruits. Simply put you want to make sure whatever service or product you’re marketing is actually worth having. A lot of marketing falls apart because the actual product or service sucks so it’s good to double check that your product is awesome ( remember you can’t polish a turd ). With that in mind let’s get started on the on the 2 part strategy you need to focus on as you build your forest ( grow your brand ).

The first step is making sure all of your trees can spread pollen. Your goal here is to make sure your stories are contagious and spread virally so that you are leveraging your customer’s word of mouth instead of your own marketing time or dollars. The ultimate test of the quality of your marketing and your product is whether people voluntarily tell their friends about it.

Next, if you’re going to need to be strategic about the soil you choose. You’re essentially creating a network of trees and you need to understand how your pollen is going to spread from one patch of land ( community of people ) to another so you can be smart about how you spend your limited time and energy. Crafting amazing stories is important but your ability to move that story from one mind to another truly defines your worth as a marketer. This process is both an art and a science and will require you to put together everything you’ve learned so far as well as being flexible to the changing nature of the field.

The resources in this section are going to teach you how to create contagious stories and strategically distribute them as well as remind you of the importance of having a quality product. They will cover the mindsets of how you should think about growing your brand and some tactics for spreading your message.


With that, we’ve given you all the tools to start your journey into marketing. We hope you’ve enjoyed the story we’ve sold you ( the art of inception metaphor )  and our goal is that you found the content both memorable and compelling enough to share with your friends. This syllabus, however, is only the beginning. We recommend that as you move forward in your journey you focus on authentic and vulnerable storytelling, diving deep and understanding emotions and emotional intelligence, paying attention and utilizing the new and rapidly evolving tools to distribute your message, and last but not least always paying attention to where your customers attention actually is at the moment because it’s always changing. We welcome you to the world of marketing and hope to see you again soon. 

Robert Neal
an exceptional man, a privilege to work with ( thanks for the kind words @brad ... it's mostly an embellishment lol ). I'm a Front-End Web Developer (UX & UI ) and a Marketing Consultant. I help influencers and businesses build websites and create marketing content/strategy. I also try and read two books a month, attempt to salsa ( my gf is better) and consume more sushi and bubble tea that I probably should ( I'm on the path to obesity). Thanks for your attention and I hope you enjoy your day.